“Simply put, I wanted to be the change. I knew I had a voice and I wanted to hear the voices of others as well.”
What was your path to becoming a therapist?
Simply put, I wanted to be the change. I knew I had a voice and I wanted to hear the voices of others as well. Along the way I realized that some felt slighted, guarded, worried, and scared to share their voice or to just be their natural self. I always felt that counseling chose me. I wanted to help everyday people — the ones who make the world go round by getting up every day, battling through emotional scars, caring for their families, being a boss, and getting things done. I spent much of my career working with underserved populations battling low incomes, disabilities, substance use, and severe mental illness. That is where I learned that change can happen on all levels: by turning a hard "no" into a warm "yes," that harm reduction was key, and mending a broken spirit was monumental.
What should someone know about working with you?
I always begin with a phone consultation. This allows the client to share what they are seeking from therapy and what they are looking for in a therapist. After the consultation, we move to the initial intake. Clients can complete their intake forms online prior to our session. Upon our first interaction, I create a space of warmth and understanding so that the client feels comfortable sharing their story. We'll discuss some key points from the intake assessment, address goals, and set a follow-up plan. I encourage clients to always ask questions, especially if they do not understand something I may have said. I like to give homework assignments, and we'll discuss the one that works best for the client during our session.
What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to try therapy?
Contemplating therapy and feeling hesitant is common. Start by writing down a list of things you feel you would want to address in therapy. Think about who you feel most comfortable talking to: men, women, a non-binary person, a person who has similar traits, or is perhaps from the same community or even borough as you. Now you're one step closer. Next you can read through a few profiles and send emails or make calls. This is a process, just like everything else. Sometimes you'll find the right person with one try and other times you may need to keep looking. There's no right or wrong way to find a therapist, as long as you are moving in the direction of accomplishing your goal.
What are you most excited about within the evolving mental health landscape?
I'm excited that we are normalizing mental health and dismissing stigma. There is still some work to do, but now more than ever we are seeing movies that depict main characters going to therapy. We hear actors and celebrities discussing their mental health and using their platforms to spread awareness. Society as a whole is learning that mental health is just as important as physical health. As a woman of color, I find that it is important to spread awareness within communities of color that mental health is imperative and that resources are available. Whether those resources come in the form of supportive apps, virtual support groups, or posts and advertisements, what matters is that the message is being conveyed and signals normalcy.
Have you done any research-based work that you found particularly exciting? How does it inform your practice today?
My first area of research includes yoga philosophy and incorporating breathwork and physical movement into treatment when addressing trauma and building resiliency. The second area is expanding on multicultural competencies for clinicians and understanding the person as a whole — not just mind, body, and spirit, but also understanding the intersectionality of their race, skin tone, and cultural beliefs. The combination of multicultural competency and the philosophy of yoga also come into play when helping clients work through their thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations when faced with microaggressions, classism, economic status, and simply being passed over for a job that they were highly qualified for.
“I find that it is important to spread awareness within communities of color that mental health is imperative and that resources are available.”